Sunday, February 02, 2014

Air Cleveburgh

If you have not read it, required reading today from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer: United Airlines says it will cut departing flights from Cleveland by 60 percent starting in April. For them, as it is here, it is all a matter of great civic concern. It was a corporate decision that was apparently unswayed by all the boosterism they could muster up there.

Addendum. Cleveland realizes it is now following our lead. Cleveland Plain Dealer:Cutbacks at nearby Pittsburgh International Airport may supply a lesson for Cleveland Hopkins travelers

It is odd reading this along with the version locally also in the news today... Trib: Pittsburgh International struggling despite the region's robust economy. That is in some ways a follow up on news the other day that the county is actively pursuing the, "banned by law" in the United States, business of expanding a foreign airline at the airport here. See PG: Allegheny County wooing Emirates airline. Don't get me wrong, Emirates is a great airline if you have ever had a chance to fly it, but that is just another point altogether.

What does it all mean here? The airport here once tried to sell itself as an alternative market to folks flying out of Cleveland?  Whether the decrease in flights will hurt or help that endeavor is unclear, even if it is still being pursued.  Fewer flights means some may have to seek flights out of PIT, but just as happened here, the de-hubbing may mean lower costs out of Cleveland and thus stiffer competition for PIT. As with PIT you have to think the lower costs will bring in more local enplanements, which would have to come out of PIT's hide, but who knows?  Where is a CGE model when you need one?

But going back to the Trib article today.... It highlights this confusion of public officials going back a long way here of conflating economic potential at the airport with regional economic growth and competitiveness.  As much as some want to believe otherwise, I've never seen any research that ties regional competitiveness with investment, let alone public investment, in air transportation infrastructure. Is there more air service in regions that are bigger and faster growing? You bet, but don't confuse the correlation with causality both ways. Yet, it is one of those sacrosanct theories. Just imagine what would have been said about Pittsburgh's economic future if in 2000 you predicted the USAirways hub was about to evaporate rapidly.  Was not the region's economic future tied to airport generated growth? Nobody has ever really gone back to evaluate that whole strategy.

Speaking of looking back... just wondering what progress has been made of the big effort to expand flights from PIT to other Pennsylvania airports.  Any trends there of note?


Anonymous The Wiz said...

I am sure that the Youngstown and Akron airports will try to pick up some of the traffic.

Monday, February 03, 2014 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

I've also seen people speculating it might be a little easier to schedule additional flights/routes in Pittsburgh with Cleveland being dehubbed.

Personally, I wonder if the Cleveland airport has any financial liabilities this will affect.

Monday, February 03, 2014 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous S C Luther said...

"...wondering what progress has been made of the big effort to expand flights from PIT to other Pennsylvania airports"

Interesting note that the Cleveland pull-down includes significant small city flying that was/could have been considered competitive to the efforts at PIT. It MAY even free up some of Silver Airways' attention to further investigate flying the PA connector idea.

Monday, February 03, 2014 3:55:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

So as a United hub, Cleveland had direct flights to around 70 destinations, versus around 36 for Pittsburgh. When the dehubbing is finished, Cleveland will drop down to 32.

This is a rough list of the destinations that are losing direct service from Cleveland, and which I believe do not already have direct service from Pittsburgh. Commentary to follow:

Austin, Bradford, Pa., Buffalo, Burlington, Columbus, Dayton, Dubois, Pa., Erie, Flint, Franklin, Pa., Grand Rapids, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Indianapolis, Jamestown, Kansas City, Louisville, Madison, Wis., Manchester, N.H., Montreal, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Parkersburg, W.Va., Portland, Me., Providence, Richmond, Rochester, Syracuse

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

To the extent people were originating locally to some of those destinations, you might see some of those as potential additions at PIT. In terms of people who were connecting through Cleveland to those destinations, presumably United has plans to shift a lot of those people to other routes. Still, I imagine there may be some additional opportunities in terms of possible connecting routes through PIT now that Cleveland is out of the mix (maybe even with United).

From that perspective, it is an interesting list, with a bunch of local stuff but also some potentially useful farther destinations.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 11:14:00 AM  
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Wednesday, June 03, 2015 1:38:00 AM  

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